Final Project-VN

“Clean Our Water, Wash Out Wilda”: Contaminated Tap Water, 2019 Perth Amboy Grassroots Activism, and the Lack of Governmental Response” 

By Victoria Nguyen

Seeing Nora’s water filter completely shattered my initial expectations. When the Perth Amboy, NJ resident had agreed to show me the filtration system her family used as well as to discuss her everyday experiences living in complete suspicion of her town’s tap water, I had the naïve thought that I was going to see two or three Brita water filters lying on top of her kitchen countertop. At most. What greeted me instead was a Whirlpool WHEMB40 Under Sink Water Purifier, a seemingly entire filtration system, that was connected underneath the kitchen faucet and slightly hummed as it worked to provide Nora’s family some solace. Nora casually flips on the faucet and we watch the water run together in silence.[i] The tap water looks like any typical tap water out there—but that assessment would only be held by those who lived outside of Perth Amboy. The residents had their own beliefs regarding the water quality, including Nora. “We tried petitioning the former mayor [Wilda Diaz] on reforming many issues,” Nora explains of the local politics in her town. “But nothing has been done. We couldn’t even trust her to fix the potholes.”[ii]

The Whirlpool water filter and Nora’s suspicions of her tap water and the previous local government are symbolic of the environmental issue that could potentially continue impacting the Perth Amboy community. As recently as 2019, Mayor Wilda Diaz’s administration circulated notices to inform the residents that there was a heightened presence of Total Trihalomethanes (TTHM) contaminants in the tap water.[iii] Although the administration had claimed that the issue has been resolved since, Nora and other residents have been suspicious of the water quality prior to 2019 and even after. When asked if she would ever consider stop using her water filter, Nora does not even hesitate to say no.[iv]  These negative sentiments that Nora houses towards the water quality and her local government mirror the same ones that would galvanize community activists to organize and demand cleaner water and government transparency in 2019. The Runyon Watershed, located in Old Bridge, NJ, has been providing Perth Amboy drinking water for decades; yet there have been reported issues concerning contamination since the 1970s. Notably in 1981, the Madison Industries and Control Pollution Services (CPS) located nearby the Runyon Watershed was even charged with contaminating a pond belonging to the Watershed.[v]

It is unclear whether Nora is cognizant of her town’s environmental history of contaminated tap water, but her skepticism of her town’s tap water quality symbolically represents the sentiments of a city that has suffered for too long. However, for a town that has seen its fair share of contaminated tap water, it has not been too sympathetic towards modern local grassroots activists who are concerned with this generation’s water issues.

In response to the 2019 notices regarding the heightened TTHM presence in the city’s tap water, local community activists such as Sharon Hubberman felt compelled to advocate for cleaner water and petitioned the local authorities to enact meaningful change to address the environmental issue. Hubberman’s advocacy efforts were also cognizant of the background of her fellow residents—she took account of the overwhelming Hispanic and Latino populations that were often reluctant to speak against the government and motivated herself to challenge the city government to be more proactive and transparent. It is worth noting the demographics of Perth Amboy as it could potentially contribute to the longstanding environmental issue of water and a passive government reluctant to listen to the concerns of Sharon Hubberman. Out of the approximate population of 52,000 residents, a considerable 78% claimed Hispanic and/or Latino identity and about 19% of residents live in poverty.[vi] While the Perth Amboy government has publicized its plans and progress in regard to sustainability initiatives, there are still disheartened residents such as Hubberman who feel that their concerns have not been received or validated by the town officials.

Are Perth Amboy residents being ignored due to their racial and economic background? The lack of governmental results in response to Hubberman’s 2019 grassroots efforts to demand cleaner water rings loud. Despite the fact that Perth Amboy residents rallied behind key grassroots organizers and vocalized their concerns and suspicions of the tap water quality, their disadvantages such as being minority and low-income could have prevented their success of motivating the local authority to take environmental action.

This paper will briefly describe the industrial past and demographics that serve as the backdrop to the city of Perth Amboy. It will then transition to the tap water issues that plagued the city in decades past before elaborating upon the passionate 2019 grassroots activism that failed to inspire governmental action to assure residents of water safety. Lastly, the paper will examine how the local government, in contrast, took proactive measures to fix the sewer system following repudiation from the federal government in order to examine whether the Perth Amboy government is too passive in protecting its disadvantaged constituents from compromised tap water exposure.

Perth Amboy’s Industrial Past and Demographics

Historically, Perth Amboy, New Jersey is known for its industrial contributions during the 19th and 20th century industrialization. Corporate giants such as Raritan Steel, Chevron Oil, and Hess Oil utilized the Raritan Bay in their process of transporting goods.[vii] Other factories would be built alongside the Bay, including the International Smelting & Refining Company and the Gerdau Ameristeel Steel Melting Company.[viii] As these industrial factories continued to manufacture goods, they began to rely on more Puerto Ricans for labor during the 1950s, hence the advent of Hispanic population into Perth Amboy and the consequential changes in cultural and social landscapes of the city.[ix]

In terms of environmental issues that detriment Perth Amboy in the modern day, there are plenty that exist. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool, for example, Perth Amboy ranks in the federal 91st percentile for superfund proximity, the 84th percentile for hazardous waste proximity, and the 93rd percentile for wastewater discharge.[x] Within the same Screening and Mapping Tool, it also reveals additional demographic data that could provide some context into the environmental issues that are apparent in Perth Amboy. For example, only 36% of the city population reported attaining a high school degree as the highest educational attainment.[xi] In addition, 71% of the city population reportedly rent their homes.[xii] Thus, by taking account of the demographic data provided by both the Census Bureau and the EPA, Perth Amboy is a city that has a considerable minority population with disadvantages such as limited educational backgrounds, low-income, and lack of home ownership.

Despite the fact that this research is focused upon tap water issues, it is significant to make the connection between the advent of minority populations, the remnants of a city’s industrial past, and the environmental hazards (tap water being one) that current Perth Amboy residents continue to grapple with.

Tap Water Issues in Perth Amboy

As of 2019, Perth Amboy had heightened presence of Total Trihalomethanes (TTHM) and 1-4 Dioxane in the tap water, as disclosed by the Perth Amboy Utility Service Affiliates, the company responsible for sourcing the water to the city.[xiii] TTHM is a by-product of drinking water disinfection, whereas 1-4 Dioxane is a solvent involved in the manufacture of products that range from shampoo to auto coolants.[xiv] However, the long-term effects of TTHM exposure is concerning, due to the fact that enhanced exposure can lead to health issues of the liver, kidneys, and even increased chances of getting cancer.[xv]

The cause of elevated concentrations of TTHM and 1-4 Dioxane have been subjected to debate. City officials, such as those in the Perth Amboy Utility Service Affiliates, have refuted that contamination of the tap water to be legitimate and instead, characterized the TTHM exceedance as natural results that arise during water treatment processes.[xvi] On the other side, community activists such as Sharon Hubberman staunchly believe that the elevated concentrations did constitute as contamination of her city’s tap water and look towards the superfund site Madison Industries and Control Pollution Services (CPS) that is located near the Runyon Watershed, which sources Perth Amboy’s tap water.

As briefly mentioned before, Perth Amboy does in fact have a history of contaminated drinking water that unfortunately spans from the 1970s to today. In 1973, Perth Amboy had to close 25 of its wells since they were found to be contaminated with chemicals including lead.[xvii] Next, in 1980, a Goldleaf Transport Inc. employee James Finch was charged with illegally dumping PCBs (chemical contaminant) into a Perth Amboy water reservoir.[xviii] The extremity of such problems arguably occurred in 1981, when Madison Industries and Control Pollution Services (CPS) were charged with contaminating a pond that was part of the Runyon Watershed, the source of drinking water to Perth Amboy. CPS was ordered to pay a hefty fine of approximately $5.5 million to restore a polluted pond that served as a drinking water source for Perth Amboy.[xix]

Grassroots Activism

Although local Perth Amboy activists were vocal in advocating for better water quality, they were compelled to initiate a recall effort of Mayor Wilda Diaz as a result of their government’s disregard for their concerns and demands for cleaner tap water and government transparency. On February 21, 2019, Utility Service Affiliates (Perth Amboy Inc.) of the Middlesex Water Company sent notices informing that a couple of its designated sampling locations had an exceedance of TTHM levels in the water.[xx]  

To Sharon Hubberman, receiving this notice was extremely concerning to herself and to those who shared a priority of upholding human health.[xxi] It morphed into a more dreadful concern when a representative of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a public forum on May 22, 2019 to inform Perth Amboy residents that three of their wells were not only contaminated with TTHMs, but also with 1-4 Dioxane.[xxii] 1-4 Dioxane is categorized as a synthetic industrial chemical and likely human carcinogen that has been found at groundwater sites.[xxiii] Considering how the Runyon Watershed, Perth Amboy’s source for drinking water, is located so closely to the contaminated CPS/Madison Superfund site, residents such as

Hubberman were justifiably worried. This public forum prompted Hubberman to research further into the water quality sourced to her community and would even contribute to her later leading the recall effort of Mayor Wilda Diaz as an attempt to demand government accountability. “Listening to this news at our last council meeting was not only disconcerting,” Hubberman later states. “but it troubles me deeply that our residents have been exposed to such dangerous toxins in our drinking water. Clean water is a fundamental right, and we must safeguard it and be good stewards of it, because without it, we cannot have life.”[xxiv]

On June 20, 2019, another notice was distributed to Perth Amboy residents that reported another violation of acceptable TTHM levels again.[xxv] However, less than a month later, the city insisted that the water was safe to consume.[xxvi] These seemingly contradictory narratives were not assuring to local residents and only motivated Hubberman to stay invested in her advocacy.

Although there are some described events in which the timeline is not clear, Hubberman discussed the dissatisfying interactions she experienced with local government officials that motivated her to keep leading the grassroots demand for cleaner water and (clearer) government transparency. According to her account, she and her fellow activists had reached out to N.J. Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez with their own curated 100-page report detailing the tap water quality, their own personal findings and concerns of their health, but to no avail.[xxvii] Hubberman also unsuccessfully attempted to contact the office of U.S. Representative Frank Pallone Jr.[xxviii] As for the activists’ own local officials in the parameters of their own city, they were untrusting of Mayor Diaz.

“Someone has to watch out for us,” states Former Perth Amboy Board of Education candidate and fellow activist Maria Rodriguez. “A lot of our residents’ concerns have been ignored by Mayor Wilda Diaz, and any issue regarding our water is a serious matter.”[xxix]

Consequently, come June 2019, Hubberman and her fellow activists sought to amplify their demands for change and better environmental protection. On June 5, 2019, Hubberman, Maria Rodriguez, and Former 19th Legislative District Assembly candidate Jesus Varela officially submitted a recall effort of Mayor Diaz.[xxx] On the same day, the Facebook group “Recall Mayor Wilda Diaz” was also established and contains posts made by Hubberman for her community to circulate. On June 30, 2019, the second Facebook group “Clean Water Perth Amboy Now” was also created by Hubberman. These Facebook groups served as spaces for the activists to disseminate important information regarding governmental outreach, organized events to petition city officials to answer their questions, and even as opportunities for fellow Perth Amboy residents to vocalize their distrust of Mayor Diaz.

       

The pictures above are screenshots of various posts from both aforementioned Facebook groups that detail the level of activism and distrust towards Mayor Diaz.

        

“As concerned residents, we initiated a recall of Mayor Wilda Diaz to help ensure the safety of our water, to help restore confidence in the city’s management, and to promote government transparency,” Hubberman defends her decision to initiate the recall effort. “Our residents deserve clean water, and we must put the residents of Perth Amboy first.”[xxxi]

When asked why the recall effort was necessary, Hubberman insists the severity of the environmental problem and a dismissive government requires a strong communal rebuke.[xxxii] Unsurprisingly, the recall effort was what prompted Mayor Diaz to directly respond to these concerned constituents. In response, the Mayor assured that the tap water quality sourced to Perth Amboy residents “meets all state and federal drinking water standards,” and dismissed “claims of residents being exposed to ‘dangerous levels of contaminants’” as “false and completely irresponsible.’”[xxxiii] Even today, during the term of new city Mayor Helmin Caba,  such sentiments towards the activists linger within the administrative officials. When Luis Perez-Jimenez, the Director of Operations representing the Perth Amboy Affiliates was contacted for this research, he assured that there was never a contamination in the water and blamed these activists for negatively dramatizing the results of a typical water treatment process.[xxxiv]

Despite all of the hard efforts of Sharon Hubberman and her fellow activists to inform the Perth Amboy community of the compromised tap water quality and to pressure the local government to proactively address the environmental issue, their activism arguably was not received well by city officials. Why the unreceptive governmental response? Although the racial demographics of Perth Amboy residents were not explicitly mentioned in the newspaper articles nor the EPA article that highlighted the 2019 instances of contaminated tap water, that factor of such weight cannot be ruled out.

“We’re mostly a Hispanic population.” Hubberman, on the other hand, brought up the diversity her community is comprised of. “Something should be done…We’ve been neglected for many years.”[xxxv] For a city that has endured so many tap water issues since the 1970s, it seems counterintuitive that the government was dismissive of the grassroots activism and did not take any actions to alleviate residents’ concerns. There is demographic data that alludes to a population that has minorities with limited schooling, linguistic isolation, and rent homes, among other factors. Could the government feel unmoved to not enact any changes for a constituent base that (may) appear to be uninformed and reluctant to demand for better environmental standards?

III. Results of 2019 Grassroots Efforts for Cleaner Water

The failure of the government to respond to Hubberman’s activism efforts to demand for better tap water quality and municipal transparency in 2019 continues to disadvantage its underserved minority residents that are continuously distrustful of their tap water. Although the local activism was implemented with the good faith of advocating for environmental health of a disadvantaged population, it was met with distinct challenges that resulted in the dismissal of present city officials, the lack of media attention, and the continuing distrust city residents feel towards their tap water. However, the city government’s reluctance to respect the issues raised by the activists in search of accountability and clean water is the overarching consequence that made the grassroots efforts “unsuccessful.”

As previously mentioned, these local organizers are known by the administration of the Perth Amboy Utility Service Affiliation for their activism. Director of Operations Luis Perez-Jimenez considered them as figures who had a political agenda different from the agenda they publicly advocated for regarding clean and safe water.[xxxvi] However, in terms of transparency and clarity, the Perth Amboy Utility Service Affiliation has notably not published the 2020 Annual Water Quality report on its website.[xxxvii] Furthermore, it was a challenging process to personally acquire the recent water quality report from Perez-Jimenez himself, as a whole series of phone tag was played between his associates and myself within a span of ten days. This experience propelled me to think of how this challenging ordeal to obtain water quality information could dissuade Perth Amboy residents from knowing the content of the water they are exposed to. For another individual who could have had limited schooling and whose primary language was Spanish, as are many residents that Hubberman advocated on the behalf of, how would they do so? As for another governmental official who is supposedly not receptive to the activists’ claims and demands, the new Mayor Helmin Caba (who defeated Mayor Wilda Diaz in the 2020 mayoral race) apparently shares the same sentiments as Perez-Jimenez.[xxxviii] When Hubberman was asked of her opinion about Mayor Caba and of any prospects of his support towards the activists’ cause, her pessimism of the local authorities did not waver. She attested that Mayor Caba, like his predecessor, was allegedly unreceptive to addressing the tap water concerns.[xxxix]

Another factor that alludes to the objective unsuccess of the 2019 grassroots efforts is the lack of mainstream media coverage of the city’s contaminated water and the grassroots movement in general. Aside from the local papers such as the Amboy Guardian and NJ Today and Hubberman’s Facebook presence, the lack of media attention regarding the 2019 instances of contamination is unjust to Perth Amboy residents to outsiders alike. As a result of this lack of coverage, it dismisses the distrust and dissatisfaction local residents have towards their water quality and renders outsiders ignorant of these everyday struggles with the tap water. Both Hubberman and Perth Amboy resident Nora Abreu expressed gratitude for my research.

“I appreciate your research into this topic,” Nora stated over a Facebook Messenger conversation of ours. “I am more than happy to help provide you with any relevant information for your research.”[xl]

While this shortage of media attention can be interpreted as an indicator of Hubberman’s unsuccessful organizing efforts, it can also serve as a factor that hints at yet another disadvantage these minority Perth Amboy residents grapple with. In this current digital age, having the ability to garner public attention towards social causes often provides organizers with the leverage that they had initially lacked. For example, Newark, New Jersey is a city that also suffers from unsafe drinking water and local activists successfully gained public attention by protesting on social media, and even at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center.[xli] However, the amount of media spotlight on Perth Amboy water issues is nowhere near that on Newark water issues. Thus, this factor of inadequate public attention is a disservice to the 2019 organizing efforts of Hubberman and her fellow activists who sought to petition their city government to respond proactively to their own tap water concerns. It also is a disservice to other Perth Amboy residents who need any resource and leverage they can obtain in order to empower themselves to speak of their struggles and suspicions of the water and to potentially join Hubberman’s cause to petition the local government to perform better.

Lastly, the continuing distrust residents feel towards their drinking water supply alludes to the 2019 activists’ inability to successfully push for the Perth Amboy government to support their cause and address the tap water issue. As mentioned earlier, Perth Amboy resident Nora Abreu still depends on her Whirlpool WHEMB40 Under Sink Water Purifier in order to drink her tap water. Isaac Scafe, a Civil Engineering student at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and fellow Perth Amboy resident, depends on external sources such as bottled water to circumvent the tap water.

Isaac Scafe’s family supply of bottled water. This is what they consume on a bi-weekly basis, rather than relying on the tap water. Photo credits to Isaac Scafe.

While Nora and Isaac access their drinking water in different ways, both have expressed their dissatisfaction with the former Mayor Wilda Diaz and her overall leadership.

“I was definitely distrusting of Mayor Diaz,” Isaac stated without a moment’s hesitation. “While living here I haven’t noticed any type of improvements occurring in the town.”[xlii] In the same vein, Nora attested to living in Perth Amboy for 23 years and spoke of how her community has always been suspicious of the city’s tap water quality and frustrated with the Wilda Diaz administration.[xliii] However, while she was aware of the 2019 recall movement, she joined Isaac in not being aware of Sharon Hubberman and the activism that advocated for clean and safe water for Perth Amboy.[xliv]

Unfortunately, the efforts of the local activists to demand clean water and government accountability had not materialized results that aligned with their goals as there is still existent dismissive attitudes from the Perth Amboy government, lack of media attention to highlight the residents’ struggles, and the staunch feelings of suspicion city residents have towards the water. While these results can arguably indicate the shortcomings of the grassroots activism, they too can also hint at the shortcomings of a government who were not receptive towards the concerns of its minority and disadvantaged constituents and did not utilize the opportunity to gain public trust in the environmental issue of tap water.

IV. Contrasting Governmental Actions Towards Sewage Replacement

In stark contrast, the Perth Amboy government has been proactive in protecting its minority residents with the replacement of its sewer system; although this proactive attitude is likely the result of the repudiation it received from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2012 for illegal dumping. According to official EPA documents, the city of Perth Amboy was found disseminating “370 million gallons of sewage flow into the Raritan River and Arthur Kill River through Perth Amboy’s combined sewer system each year.”[xlv] This dumping of sewage into the bodies of water occurred during Mayor Wilda Diaz’s administration. Even today, there are high levels of fecal matter in the Raritan Bay, a place where some local residents will take their children to wade in during hot summer days.[xlvi]

Overhead picture of Perth Amboy and relevant bodies of water. Photo credits to NASA.

Consequently, the city government had to pay $5.4 million to upgrade and repair the old sewer system.[xlvii] In addition to honoring the fine, the city government is also mandated to “conduct annual inspections of all of its combined sewer system control facilities and will develop and implement a combined sewer control overflow pollution prevention plan.”[xlviii] Since June 1, 2020, the Perth Amboy government has been committed to a combination of proposed options including increasing the amount of wastewater directed towards a sewer replacement plant and increasing facility storage capacity.[xlix]  Thus, the Perth Amboy’s proactive governmental actions in the aftermath of this widely publicized scandal is drastically different from its (lack of) response to the concerns raised by Sharon Hubberman and the grassroots activists regarding their compromised tap water in 2019. The disparity in governmental responses to each unique water issue in the city is probably because one drew so much public ire and federal intervention whereas the other issue has not had the privilege of attaining media attention to place public pressure onto the government. Thereby, it is interesting to see how one local government can proactively work to mitigate one environmental issue of wastewater distribution but witness that same local government dismiss the grassroots organizers’ demands of wanting safer drinking tap water while there is an apparent lack of media attention and outside public pressure. This instance of the Perth Amboy government paying its dues in illegal wastewater dumping proves that it could protect its disadvantaged minority populations and so it further highlights the wrongs the government has enacted in failing to confront the issue of compromised tap water.

V. Conclusion

In conclusion, though Perth Amboy witnessed its own residents rally together to demand cleaner water and municipal transparency, their calls went unanswered by a government who felt no sense of accountability to its minority and low-income constituents. Evidently, Perth Amboy is a city that has an unfortunately long history with contaminated tap water; its own residents attest to strong feelings of suspicion towards their drinking water and towards the (former) administration in charge. Furthermore, there is the existent demographics that hint at why the environmental injustice in the city is the way it is. It simply cannot be coincidental for a government to be unreceptive towards a constituent base that comprises of a large Hispanic and low-income population. It also cannot be coincidental that this same government has been taking proactive measures to address its problem of wastewater distribution, a problem that garnered federal intervention roughly ten years ago.

Whereas local residents such as Nora Abreu and Isaac Scafe retain their sentiments of cynicism towards the issues of the compromised tap water, frontline grassroots activist Sharon Hubberman contrastingly retains her determination to continue advocating for her peers who may be too intimidated or not as knowledgeable. She emphasizes that her persistence is derived from her love and admiration for her community.[l]

“There are ongoing issues with the water,” says Hubberman. “The administration needs to stop politicizing our concerns with the water.”[li]    

Photo found on the Facebook group, “Recall Mayor Wilda Diaz” from July 8, 2019.

1 Noralie Abreu, email message and video to author (fictionalized scene), April 6, 2021.

2 Noralie Abreu in discussion with the author, April 1, 2021, recording, Environmental Justice History in America website, https://ejhistory.com/oral-interview-or-video-story-vn/

3 “Notice: New Water Quality Violation Reported for Perth Amboy Drinking Water,” Perth Amboy Now, June 21, 2019, https://perthamboynow.com/notice-new-water-quality-violations-reported-perth-amboy-drinking-water/

4 Noralie Abreu in discussion with the author, April 1, 2021, recording, Environmental Justice History in America website, https://ejhistory.com/oral-interview-or-video-story-vn/

5 James O’Neill. “Two firms must pay for cleanup of pond.” Star Ledger (Newark, NJ), July 9, 1981.

6 “QuickFacts: Perth Amboy City, New Jersey,” U.S. Census Bureau, 2019, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/perthamboycitynewjersey

7 Constantine Janulis. “A Walk Through Perth Amboy’s Industrial Memory” (master’s thesis, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, 2017), 10-11, https://search-proquest-com.proxy.libraries.rutgers.edu/docview/2002565586?pq-origsite=primo

8 Ibid, 13.

9 Encyclopedia of New Jersey (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2004), pg. 629.

10 “EJScreen ACS Report 2014-2018: Perth Amboy city” (Demographics Indicator Report, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), 2. https://ejscreen.epa.gov/mapper/demogreportpdf.aspx?report=acs2018

11 Ibid.

12 Ibid.

13 “2019 Water Quality Report” (Water Quality Report, Perth Amboy Utility Service Affiliates, 2019), 2.

14 Ibid, 7.

15 Ibid.

16 Luis Perez-Jimenez, phone call to author, April 10, 2021.

17 Daniel Hayes. “State Tells Perth Amboy to close 25 Fouled Wells.” Star Ledger (Newark), March 10, 1973.

18 Herb Jaffe. “The Toxic Dumping ‘Dragnet’: Task Force Has Charged 55 in 3 ½ Year Probe of Jersey’s Industry.” Star Ledger (Newark), November 2, 1980.

19 James O’Neill. “Two Firms Must Pay for Cleanup of Pond.” Star Ledger (Newark), July 9, 1981.

20 “Notice: New Water Quality Violation Reported for Perth Amboy Drinking Water,” Perth Amboy Now, June 21, 2019, https://perthamboynow.com/notice-new-water-quality-violations-reported-perth-amboy-drinking-water/at Utility Service Affiliates (Perth Amboy) Inc.” (Middlesex Water Company, Perth Amboy, 2019), 2.

21 Sharon Hubberman, phone call to author, April 10, 2021.

22 “Perth Amboy Community Activists Submit Recall Notice of Mayor Wilda Diaz,” Amboy Guardian June 21, 2019, http://www.amboyguardian.com/2019/06/21/community-activists-submit-recall-notice-of-mayor-wilda-diaz/

23 “Technical Fact Sheet- 1-4 Dioxane (Technical Fact Sheet, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2017), 1, https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-03/documents/ffrro_factsheet_contaminant_14-dioxane_january2014_final.pdf

24 “Perth Amboy Community Activists Submit Recall Notice of Mayor Wilda Diaz,” Amboy Guardian June 21, 2019, http://www.amboyguardian.com/2019/06/21/community-activists-submit-recall-notice-of-mayor-wilda-diaz/

25 “Notice: New Water Quality Violation Reported for Perth Amboy Drinking Water,” Perth Amboy Now, June 21, 2019, https://perthamboynow.com/notice-new-water-quality-violations-reported-perth-amboy-drinking-water/

26 Bob Makin. “Perth Amboy Water Safe to Drink, Restored Well Should Reduce Contamination,” My Central Jersey, July 18, 2019, https://www.mycentraljersey.com/story/news/local/middlesex-county/2019/07/18/perth-amboy-water-safe-drink-repairs-should-reduce-contamination/1759078001/

27 Sharon Hubberman, phone call to author, April 10, 2021.

28 Ibid.

29 “Perth Amboy Community Activists Submit Recall Notice of Mayor Wilda Diaz,” Amboy Guardian June 21, 2019, http://www.amboyguardian.com/2019/06/21/community-activists-submit-recall-notice-of-mayor-wilda-diaz/

30 Ibid.

31 Sharon Hubberman, Facebook group “Clean Water Now Perth Amboy” post, July 19, 2019.

32 Sharon Hubberman, phone call to author, April 10, 2021.

33 Sharon Hubberman, Facebook Group “Recall Mayor Wilda Diaz” post, July 19, 2019.

34 Luis Perez-Jimenez, phone call to author, April 10, 2021.

35 Sharon Hubberman, phone call to author, April 10, 2021.

36 Luis Perez-Jimenez, phone call to author, April 10, 2021.

37 “Water Quality Reports,” accessed May 8, 2021, https://www.middlesexwater.com/water-quality/

38 Sharon Hubberman, phone call to author, April 10, 2021.

39 Ibid.

40 Noralie Abreu, Facebook Messenger chat to author, March 29, 2021.

41 Josiah Bates. “Several Arrested Outside MTV VMAs in Newark After Protests over Lead in City’s Water,” Time, August 26, 2019, https://time.com/5662239/newark-vmas-lead-water-protests/

42 Isaac Scafe, Discord chat to author, April 10, 2021.

43 Noralie Abreu in discussion with the author, April 1, 2021, recording, Environmental Justice History in America website, https://ejhistory.com/oral-interview-or-video-story-vn/

44 Ibid.

45 “Perth Amboy to Upgrade Sewer System; Agreement Reached with the EPA to Address Violations of the Clean Water Act Affecting the Raritan River and the Arthur Kill (NJ)” (Environmental Protection Agency Documents and Publications, Washington: Federal Information & News Dispatch, LLC, 2012).

46 Carly Baldwin. “High Levels of Fecal Bacteria Found in Lower Raritan River,” Patch, September 18, 2019, https://patch.com/new-jersey/newbrunswick/high-levels-fecal-bacteria-found-lower-raritan-river

47 Ibid.

48 Ibid.

49 “Perth Amboy’s Sewer System: What’s At Stake” (Fact Sheet, Sewage Free Streets and Rivers, 2), https://sewagefreenj.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Perth-Amboys-Sewer-System_-Whats-at-Stake.pdf

50 Sharon Hubberman, phone call to author, April 10, 2021.

51 “Minutes: Proceedings of the Council of the City of Perth Amboy: August 12, 2019,” (City Council Meeting Minutes, Perth Amboy municipal website, 2019), 122. https://www.perthamboynj.org/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=17106517

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Bates, Josiah. “Several Arrested Outside MTV VMAs in Newark After Protests over Lead in City’s Water,” Time, August 26, 2019, https://time.com/5662239/newark-vmas-lead-water-protests/

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